Category Archives: A’s Thoughts

Home is Where the Holiday Is

For our last holiday season in Nicaragua, we wanted to be at home in Esteli and spend Christmas and New Years Eve like most Nicaraguans do: in family.  We had two main goals, one of for each holiday.  For Christmas I wanted to try the seasonal dish lomo relleno, and for New Years Eve Emily wanted to make our own viejo. Continue reading Home is Where the Holiday Is


Things I Never Knew about School

Other than my bed, the classroom is the place where I’ve spent the single most amount of time over the course of my entire life.  After 19 years in formal education in the United States, I thought I knew a thing or two about school.  One of the wonderful opportunities we have as Peace Corps volunteers is to appreciate the different approaches societies take to things as central as education.  Sin más preambulos, here is a list of things I never knew about school with my new Nicaraguan context: Continue reading Things I Never Knew about School

Dicho Doce: International Edition

For our Dicho Doce (Sayings on the Twelfth) on the twelfth month of the year, I thought we’d try something a little crazy: reach out to PCVs all over the world and collect twelve expressions from PC posts in each region.

I’m pleased to say that, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we collectively proved the Nica dicho “el que mucho abarca poco aprieta” wrong 🙂  We did it!

Without further ado, we give you Dicho Doce: International Edition!  Click on any picture to access the full description, then click Next Image/Previous Image to browse them all.  Enjoy learning how to win the hearts of locals all around the world.


Botswana – Motho ke motho ka batho
Botswana - Motho ke motho ka batho

PCV: Taylor Henderson

Cameroon – One hand no fit tie bundle
Cameroon - One hand no fit tie bundle

PCV: Colin Korst

Kenya – Wingi wa siafu ndio nguvu yao
Kenya - Wingi wa siafu ndio nguvu yao

PCV: Annette Hynes

Uganda – Kaboli katowa kakoa omutwe wako inali okwaliko
Uganda - Kaboli katowa kakoa omutwe wako inali okwaliko

PCV: Ray Cohen


Cambodia – ញ៉ាំបាយ ហើយនៅ? / Nyam Bai Haey Neu?

PCVs: Matt Bruneel and Leshia Hansen

Thailand – กินข้าวแล้วหรือยัง? / Gin kaow leo ru yang?

PCV: Lydia Killian


Jamaica – Mi nuh bizness!

PCV: Dominque Gebru

Central America and Mexico

Panama – El camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.

PCV: Kelley Robertson

Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Moldova – Poftim. | Poftim? | Poftim!

PCV: Sara Hoy

North Africa and the Middle East

Morocco – ويلي / Wili 

PCVs: Robert Hall and Julie Feng

Pacific Islands

Philippines – Bahala na
Leave it to God

PCV: Lindsay Cope

South America

Colombia – Cójela suave

RPCV: Sarah Hinton

On Jack-o’-Lanterns and History: Cultural Exchange Chasing Away the Darkness

November 2015 Guidepost to Wholehearted Living
Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

–Max Ehrmann, from Desiderata (1924)

As Emily mentioned in her last post on chikungunya, we’ve had a bit of a rough spell these last two months.  We’ve had some great successes and high moments (among them a great site visit and class observation from our Peace Corps boss, facilitating trainings for trainees and Estelí teachers, and seeing tangible counterpart improvement), but we couldn’t quite shake these dark feelings that’d creep up on us during our down time.

This Saturday, Halloween, was a good example.  Despite a wonderful Friday spending the morning with our community of practice, eating lunch with four trainees from Nica 66 who will be in our region, and chatting away the afternoon catching up with multiple Nicaraguan friends, our joy from the day before evaporated and we found ourselves stuck, focusing on what we were lacking: pumpkin carving with family, pumpkin patching with friends, the comfort of tradition.

We ended the day with a plan of action to make the most out of our Sunday.  We’d reach out to relationships we are cultivating here, bring our traditions to Nicaragua, and snuggle with some babies in the process 🙂 Continue reading On Jack-o’-Lanterns and History: Cultural Exchange Chasing Away the Darkness

Meaningful Work One STEP at a Time

August Guidepost to Wholehearted Living
Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting go of Self-Doubt and Supposed To

Something that has struck me ever since Emily and I first started talking about joining the Peace Corps was the powerful perceptions everyone had about the program, including ourselves. From co-workers wistfully recounting their regret for not joining the Peace Corps when they “had the chance”, to church members affirming us that we’d be a blessing to our new community, to RPCVs reminiscing about the varied highs and lows of their service, expectations and perceptions of what it meant to be a Peace Corps Volunteer ran the gamut. And yet when we tried to inform ourselves about what to expect by reading blogs or reading online material or talking to RPCVs, we’d mainly hear “it depends” and “Peace Corps is the toughest job you’ll ever love.”

What do PCVs do
image credit to

Like most applicants, we certainly joined the Peace Corps hoping to make a difference while also challenging ourselves through learning about a new language and culture. Every step along the process, from receiving our invitation to Nicaragua, learning we’d be TEFL volunteers, being exposed to the TEFL program in Nicaragua, and finding out about our site, to meeting our counterparts and our schools, honed and modeled our expectations and understanding of our role here as TEFL PCVs in Nicaragua. With all of these goals, hopes, and desires for our service, self-doubt is a near universal experience during the adjustment cycle of being a Peace Corps volunteer. Continue reading Meaningful Work One STEP at a Time

Andrew’s First Nica Birthday

A year after starting life over in Nicaragua I feel confident and comfortable in my relationships that I’ve been able to form with Nicaraguan friends, Peace Corps Volunteer colleagues, the students and the teachers that I work with. Of course, this has been a gradual process, but it’s encouraging to realize that I have developed a sense of grounding here in our web of relationships. While I can’t pinpoint any one instance as the moment when I became “integrated”, my first birthday in Nicaragua a few months back was certainly one of my strongest experiences of connection to date. Continue reading Andrew’s First Nica Birthday

May We Set Healthy Expectations for Ourselves

Being a first year teacher is hard. Being a first year teacher in a subject you haven’t studied in-depth is hard. Being a first year teacher in a subject you haven’t studied in-depth in a different country and education culture, while sharing a classroom with another teacher…is hard.

Teaching is a vulnerable profession. Although I had never taught before coming to Peace Corps, I had quite intimate knowledge of this from supporting Emily through her first three years of classroom teaching in the United States. For those that care deeply about the learning and well-being of their students, teaching can be quite psychologically demanding.

Our May We Reflect posts have given me a platform in which to think about this first semester of teaching, to the multiple teacher “highs” and ”lows” I have experienced.  If a lesson went awesomely, both my counterpart and I tried out new and successful activities, and the students were engaged, I would be on cloud nine! I loved teaching! Other times, though, when I did a poor job controlling or teaching the class, or the lesson was not matching with their skill level, or my counterpart and I weren’t on the same page, I’d go home from the school with my head hung low and find myself questioning what I was doing in Nicaragua. Continue reading May We Set Healthy Expectations for Ourselves